My wife and I decided to take the dog out on the boat on the Des Plaines River for a couple hours this evening. He always wants to get in the boat when I'm working on it in the yard but it's up too high on the trailer for him. Today he got his chance to go for a ride. I've seen a lot of dogs in boats before and one thing that always bothers me about it is when guys keep the dogs out there all day long. That's not good for a dog so we decided we'd try a couple of my normal spots then head back. We didn't know what to expect since this was a first for us too.
When we got the boat in the water and the dog in the boat, the first order of business was to put a life jacket on the dog. He's a great swimmer and loves to swim in the pool so the main reason for the life jacket was in case he did jump in the water, I'd have a handle that I could use to easily grab and lift him back in the boat.
At first he seemed like he didn't know what to make of being out on the water. He stayed next to my wife (who did a awesome job taking pictures - I didn't take any for once) until we got to our first spot. As soon as I started casting, he knew I was up to something that was going to be good so he came up front and waited. I hooked a big fish almost right away and as the two guys on a nearby barge were cheering me on, the fish got away. The dog was wondering what that was all about at this point. I lost a couple more fish and he let me know he was going to get bored with this real quick if I didn't come up with something interesting.
We moved on to another spot and I hooked and lost another fish. Even my wife was wondering what was going on with me because before long it was fish 7 and Bill ZERO.
We moved again and I switched lures. This time when I hooked a fish, it stayed hooked. The first one was a small Largemouth and the dog was very curious about it. It was his first fish. I've seen guys put the fish on the floor of their boats for the dogs to play with, but we decided we'd teach Bear how to be a good fisherdog and treat the fish properly. He sniffed at them and even licked a couple, but he was not allowed to bite or hurt them in any way.
The first time I threw one back, we thought he was going in after it. He was really curious about the fact that there were living creatures in the water. Now he was having fun. He waited patiently by my side as I cast the lure hoping the next cast would produce another fish.
Before long I had a Drum in the boat......
Then a nice Largemouth......
By this time he was really into what I was doing. Both my wife and I were amazed at how he had taken to the boat and fishing so well. I kept checking my locator and before I knew it, the dog was using it to find fish too.
Another few minutes passed and I had another fish in the boat. Bear wasn't as interested in the Smallmouth. "Too small" is what we were sure he was thinking.
Since I caught the first fish, Bear spent almost the entire time right by my side encouraging me to catch another.
Lucky for me I was able to catch a lot of fish in a short period of time.
"Now that's more like it".
We moved back to first spot where I had lost my first big fish. The guys from the barge said "back for that fish, huh" as I moved past them and into position. Bear took his position right next to me once again. He waited patiently as I cast around the area.
And then it happened. I had a good solid strike from what I knew was a good fish. I pulled back on the rod and Bear got excited. I asked my wife to get the net because I knew there was going to be no hoisting this fish up into the boat. She got the net out and by this time I had the fish to the side of the boat. Bear was looking over the side trying to get a look at what was going to be coming to the boat this time. He saw the fish and just looked at me. I know he was thinking "Finally, a big one".
I maneuvered the fish towards my wife and she scooped it up like a pro. I was impressed considering that was the first time she'd ever had to do that and it's not as easy as it looks. Both the dog and I walked around the console and I took the net with the fish in it. It turned out to be a real nice Hybrid Striped Bass.
Bear came back up to supervise. Once the fish was removed from the net, Bear inspected it and gave me a look of approval before the fish was released.
Once the fish was back in the water, I packed up the three rods I was using and we started heading back. My wife spotted several deer and some other wildlife along the banks as we made our way back to the boat ramps.
The water temperature ranged from the upper 70s to 90 at one of the discharges we went by. It was cloudy the entire time and we felt a drop or two of rain, but the sprinkles held off until we got home.
Today was a real treat for me being able to have both my wife and dog join me on the water for a little while. My wife did a great job taking the photos and it was nice for me because I didn't have to worry about handling a fish and a camera at the same time. I'm glad the fishing was so good because maybe the dog will be excited to go with me again in the future.